Before marriage, many Moroccan men have little opportunity to meet and get to know women outside their family – a major reason why Western women receive so much attention. Frequent unwanted looks and comments can come as something of shock to first-time visitors and the constant attention can be extremely wearing.
Some women choose to develop a thick skin and ignore the hassle, and it's worth keeping in mind that low-level harassment rarely goes any further.
A benefit is that unlike male travellers, you’ll have opportunities to meet local women.
Dress modestly. It's best to cover your shoulders and knees, and avoid low-cut tops altogether.
Bikinis are OK on private beaches. Play things by ear in hotel pools – some are fine, at others it will attract unwanted attention.
Sunbathing topless on the beach is never appropriate in Morocco.
Havens & Pitfalls
If the hassle gets too much, look for the ever-increasing number of places accustomed to having the business of single Moroccan women.
The upper floor of a salon de thé (teahouse), a restaurant or a hotel terrace are also good bets.
Hammams are good male-free zones for a relaxing reprieve.
Hotel and public swimming pools usually attract groups of men, whether they be swimming or drinking at a poolside bar.
Be aware that some budget hotels double as brothels; any cheap hotel above a popular locals’ bar is a likely contender.
If you want an alcoholic drink, head to a large hotel rather than braving a bar, as these are generally male-dominated establishments. Local women who frequent watering holes (even the posher ones) are generally prostitutes.
Male Travelling Companions
Women travelling with male companions are less likely to experience much of the hassle that solo women inevitably encounter.
It may be better to claim to be a married couple rather than just friends (the latter concept is usually greeted with disbelief).
If you are a Moroccan woman (or Moroccan in appearance) travelling with your non-Moroccan spouse, it is advisable to carry a copy of your marriage certificate. Premarital sex for Muslims is forbidden, and Morocco has a stern attitude to prostitution.
For the same reason, if your partner is thought to be Muslim, you may meet with some uncomfortable situations at hotel reception desks. This is less of an issue in larger cities.
Try to sit next to a woman on public transport, especially in grands taxis where you’re squeezed in closely, and on trains, where you could potentially be trapped inside a compartment.
Many women travel in grands taxis without problems, regardless of where they sit, but you could pay for two seats to get a ride by yourself in the front. It would be considerably more comfortable.
Hitchhiking isn't recommended – female travellers looking for free rides may be assumed by male drivers as being prepared to offer sexual favours in return.
Avoid wandering about alone at night, as there’s an attitude that all ‘good women’ should be at home after dark; take a taxi. Avoid walking alone in remote areas such as isolated beaches, forests and sand dunes.
Wearing dark glasses is good for avoiding eye contact, but don’t spend your entire Moroccan journey hiding behind them.
A simple non merci or la shukran (‘no thank you’) is much more effective than reacting with aggression (which could be returned in kind).
The key concept is ‘respect’, something that most Moroccans hold dear. Hashouma! ('shame!') can also be used to embarrass would-be harassers.
A wedding ring may help you avoid unwanted attention – along with a photo of your ‘husband’ and ‘child’. The fact that you’re travelling without them will arouse suspicion, but you could counter this by saying you’ll be meeting them at your next destination.
Take extra care at music festivals (and other large gatherings) as complaints have been made of physical harassment
Tampons can be hard to buy in Morocco. Carrefour is the only dependable supermarket to stock them, and even then offers limited choice. You'll need to take along a plastic bag for disposing of tampons and pads.